Have you seen the Movie “Into The Wild?” It’s a true story about a man that spends his entire life running from people, wanting to be alone in solitude. He ends up isolating himself in an old caravan in the Alaskan wilderness. At the end of the story, trapped by the winter and sick from lack of food, just before he dies he enters a line in his journal saying that “we are not meant to be alone”.
All of us at some time I am sure feel the need to get away, and be alone and in the quiet for some time. For a while the idea of solitude can be appealing. For many the solitude and being alone is a choice but for many others it is just the way their life has unfolded. Never before has loneliness and isolation been so common yet in modern life there are so many ways to connect!
Most of us yearn connection, and loving and to be part of a larger family, club, organisation or social interaction. But at the same time, so many are afraid to actually take ownership of their insular self serving ways that work to keep them separate and alone. We live in a society where most of us do not know our neighbours and are threatened by anyone that smiles at us. Regardless of how society is, and no matter how we feel about ourselves and others, it’s natural and very human to love and be loved. So even if you think you are happy alone, there is a small part of you that still yearns connection in some way.
There are many limitations that stop us from making and maintaining connections. These limitations start with the way that think and feel about ourselves. Making connection with people requires that you first make connection with yourself. Following are some interesting questions. Take a couple of minutes, be still and present and with out the interruption of the ego answer them with clarity and honesty.
- How do I feel about myself?
- Do I like/love myself?
- Do I feel that I am worthy?
- Do I respect myself?
- Do I live by my values? (what are my values?)
- Am I kind to others?
- Do I put myself forward? (willing to make social risks!)
- Do I value the company of others?
- Am I hard to get along with? ( If so how?)
- How do others perceive me? (Ask a couple of close friends for their honest opinion)
- Do I blame others for my position?
- Do I forgive easily? (A good one. Forgiving makes YOU feel better.)
- Do I fear rejection? (Most people do, it’s just how quickly you get over it that counts.)
- Do any of the above stop me from reaching out regardless of what I get in return?
There can be countless reasons why you are not living the life now that you want. Most of them will be down to you and the story that you tell yourself. Your thoughts about why you are this or that are merely thoughts. You have the power to enliven them or let them float away.
There are many great books on how to change your thoughts and change your life: The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris http://bit.ly/6yebkh and Change your thinking by Sarah Edelman http://bit.ly/6V0MzZ are a couple of my favourites.
In his great book “the essential laws of fearless living” (http://bit.ly/6IdblW) Guy Finley clearly points out one of life’s and humans biggest afflictions: “What is in it for me” and that every interaction no matter how pure and honest it seems, is governed by what I get out of it.
Guy offers the following as a great way to start improving how we relate:
1. What we would have from others or have them be towards us, we must provide or be ourselves.
2. Before we ask for some ones attention, let us first lend that person our own.
3. Before we look to him for an act of consideration, let us offer one for ourselves.
4. If we wish kindness, let it begin with our own, otherwise all we give are unconscious demands, followed by judgement and disappointment.
Simple Ways to connect:
- Start with a smile to make connection. A smile enlivens your own face and sends a clear message to others that you care. Smiling will dissipate anxiety, frustration and anger, and no one dislikes a smiling, happy face. Everyone profits from a smile.
- Just talk to people. Say hello, ask them how their day is going, you will be surprised at what comes back. Your only motive is to connect.
- Stop and listen. When someone is talking to you, actually and consciously listen. Don’t be in a hurry and ignore the self talk that is going on. Look them in the eye; no one likes talking to some that is pre occupied and looking over your shoulder.
- Keep a social log. List your friends and family down and keep a log of when you last contacted them and how and when you last met. Try and make some kind of contact with at least all your friends every month.
- Schedule in regular coffee, lunches and BBQ’s with friends and family. Don’t let the old “I just don’t have time, I am too busy” way of thinking fool you.
- Actively pursue new ways to meet people and extend your social network. New hobbies and interests, there are numerous ways to connect. Fear may be your enemy and stop you from extending, but don’t let fear get in the way of something that you really want to do.
- Use letters, postcards, phone calls, texts, emails, blogs. Face book, twitter and any of the other modern ways to stay in contact. There really is just no excuse.
Reach out and don’t fear rejection, you will never be judged for being friendly and opening your heart. Even if others don’t accept you or welcome you, it makes you feel better and makes you feel more connected. Just because someone does not contact you back does not mean that they don’t want to be your friend. They may be feeling disconnected and your message may mean a lot to them.
We are all on this journey together. All of us have a one way ticket home. Why not, just for a while see if we can be happy by improving the quality of people’s lives around us. Reaching out across the void of negativity and depression and smiling, helping and offering unconditional service.
Start connecting now! Take a minute now and share how you connect with others on the comments below.
Thanks for making the connection.